No, no, not the binky!! That will be many an exhausted parent’s first reaction at the news that researchers have found striking levels of contamination with a wide variety of scary germs on some used pacifiers.
But have no fear, binky-dependent caregivers. The research, released at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Pathology just held in Boston, does not mean you have to give up the one thing that keeps your young charge reliably quiet.
The researchers conclude that the pacifiers need to be cleaned better, not immediately thrown out. (Oh, and the ten-second rule? Sorry. If it pops out and lands anywhere, it needs cleaning, they say.) Here’s the full press release from the society:
Pacifiers — used by up to 85 percent of infants in the United States –can be contaminated with harmful germs ranging from Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia to mold, according to research presented at the 2012 American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) Annual Meeting in Boston, Oct. 31–Nov. 3.
A contaminated pacifier grows a biofilm, a slimy coating of bacteria that changes the normal microbe balance in the mouth and is particularly resistant to antibiotics, researchers said. Biofilms can lead to inflammation that may increase the risk of developing colic or ear infections, and are caused by bacteria that have been linked to conditions such as depression, cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. There also is evidence that interactions between germs and the immune system can lead to allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases.
“Research shows pacifiers have their benefits, such as soothing infants and even protecting against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but they’re easily contaminated and parents need to do a better job of keeping them clean,” said Jay Bullard, MS, manager of the Microbial Forensics Research Laboratory at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa, Okla. “No one wants to eat with a dirty spoon in a nice restaurant, but parents often think nothing of picking a pacifier up off the floor at a mall and putting it back in an infant’s mouth.”
In the study, researchers collected 10 used pacifiers of different designs from healthy infants at a pediatric clinic. They minced the nipples and shields, placed them in a lab dish and looked at the cultures grown after 24 and 48 hours. Continue reading